The numbers: For the first time ever, consumer credit has risen above $4 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.
In December, the growth in consumer borrowing decelerated, but only slightly, to $16.6 billion, the Fed said. That’s an annual growth rate of 5%, which is down from a 6.8% rate in November.
Economists has been expecting a $17.5 billion gain, according to Econoday.
What happened: Revolving credit, like credit cards, rose 2% in December, after increasing by 5.6% in November and 11.7% in October. Nonrevolving credit, typically auto and student loans, rose 6% in December. For the year, credit card debt was up at a 2.75% pace while nonrevolving credit was up at a 5.5% pace. The data does not include mortgage loans.
Big picture: With low unemployment and steady income growth, consumers have been tapping into credit lines, economists said. The Fed reported earlier this week that banks are starting to tighten standards on credit cards.